Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 9, 1950
NUMBER 39, PAGE 1,7d

What Shall We Be?

Cled E. Wallace

It appears that the Pope of Rome stirred up quite a ruckus recently when he invited all non-Catholics to "return to the one true church." That means, of course, that the Pope wants everybody to become Roman Catholics which is somewhat natural He appeals to the widespread fear of "militant atheism" in an effort to start a stampede into the Catholic fold.

I read what the Pope said but did not get very excited about it. Everybody ought to know by now that smug arrogance is characteristic of Rome. The system is totalitarian and its members are slaves. They do not read or think for themselves in the realm of religion. Good Catholics take what the hierarchy, headed by the Pope, gives them without argument or question. They are so enslaved to the priesthood that it alone is qualified to interpret the Bible to them. The authority of the church as exercised by Rome means that the Bible is just no authority at all. A direct appeal to the Bible is wasted on a loyal Catholic. He is chained to the hierarchy. A knowledge of the claims, history and doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church is not a rosy prophecy of what conditions would be were Rome in power in this country. It does not comport with freedom.

As was to be expected the Baptists were among the first to make a quick and hot retort to the arrogance of the Pope. Their spokesman did a very good job considering the fact that neither the Roman hierarchy nor the Baptist Church are so much as named in the New Testament. Be it understood that when the Baptists lock horns with the Pope, my sympathies are decidedly with the Baptists. They do not pose any such danger to human liberty and free institutions as does the Catholic system. As wrong as I think the Baptists are in their peculiar beliefs, it is my established conviction that the world would be safer and generally better off if all Catholics should become Baptists rather than for all Baptists to become Catholics. This is not as close to the principles involved as I propose to get.

Doctor C. Oscar Johnson, president of the Baptist World Alliance has replied to the Pope by inviting Catholics "to accept the Baptist beliefs." He thinks they ought to become "free followers of Jesus Christ and our way of believing." Now, hold on a minute, Doctor, you are spoiling a good thing. You are strictly on the beam when you exhort Catholics and sundry to become "free followers of Jesus Christ" but your wing dips dangerously when you add "and our way of believing." Let us keep the old ship level. To become a free follower of Jesus Christ means a hearty acceptance of his authority. That is how a man becomes and lives a Christian. It is a repudiation of popes, priests, and councils and all human institutional authority. "And our way of believing" is what makes Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and all the other "ites" and "tites" nobody can read about in the New Testament. "Our way of thinking" cracks the door for the entrance of the much human authority in religion. It takes too much liberty with the authority of Jesus Christ and the all-sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures in matters of religion.

The learned spokesman for the Baptists was a bit cautious when interviewed and asked if he believed that the Baptists could lay claim to being "the one and true church." "I believe the Baptist Church comes closer to the New Testament than the others" he countered. He expressed it as his belief that "The Kingdom of God is bigger than the church to which I belong or any other church."

Now, that brings up some questions which will naturally arise in the minds of many honest and thoughtful people. Is it necessary, in view of the kind of New Testament that we have, for a man to be satisfied to belong to a church which just "comes closer to the New Testament than the others?" Why cannot we be a member of the church of the New Testament and know that we are? Paul was, and all the Christians we read about in the New Testament were. They were not merely "closer to" it than somebody else was, they were to it. Suppose that there were no sects and parties such as Baptists, Methodists and the like and all such were "free followers of Jesus Christ" and simply members of the church, the body of Christ, like the Christians we read about in the New Testament. What a position we would be in to use the sword of the Spirit on both "militant atheism" and militant Romanism! A multitude of churches, none of which are named in the New Testament, arguing about which one "comes closer to the New Testament than the others" affords an unholy advantage to both atheism and Catholicism. They are not even put to the necessity of dividing to conquer. The division is ready-made.

The kingdom of God was not bigger than the church that Paul belonged to. It included all the people of God who submitted to the reign of his exalted Son. They were all members of the church, which was the body of Christ. He was head of it and all Christians were members of it. They were not called Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians or by any other party label. "Many members but one body." This body had all the truth that various schisms have today, and all the truth they do not have. It is still in the New Testament. It is in order to invite both Catholics and Baptists and all the others to become "free followers of Jesus Christ" by simply becoming Christians and members of the body of Christ which is the church.